Year B: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: James 1: 17-18, 21-22, 27
The “James” after whom this letter is named is thought to have been James the Just who was the leader of the early Christian community in Jerusalem - although some people think it might have been written after his death by one of his followers quoting teaching he had heard from James himself.
The writer sees two things as characterising pure religion: helping those in need and preserving one’s integrity. This is refreshingly simple. So often, when we think about religion, we can become bogged down in doctrines and dogma and feel that we have to justify what we believe. Perhaps, this simple approach could be the starting point for our discussions with non-believers or those enquiring about faith and religion.
We do not need to be simplistic but, as with babies, we begin by offering spiritual milk before moving onto the banquet.
This is the process of evangelisation, beginning with what people can grasp whilst at the same time pointing them in the direction of something much deeper and more satisfying.
The other important key to evangelisation is our own example. It is of no use to suggest that religious practice is founded upon concern for the poor if we do not ourselves seem to be a very charitable community. It is hard to convince enquirers about the seriousness of our intention to remain uncontaminated by the world if we allow ourselves to use status and power to govern the relationships within our communities.
Simplicity is a very attractive attribute: it inspires confidence and nurtures rather than undermines an embryonic faith.
People in our culture have lost many of the words which express religious experience - but this does not mean that they do not have spiritual experiences. To progress in faith and mature in spirituality, they need to meet people who can explain their own faith in simple and convincing ways and help them to set their own experiences in the larger context of a believing community.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring